State Fire Marshal: Don’t Give Fire Safety A Summer Vacation

State Fire Marshal: Don’t Give Fire Safety A Summer Vacation


NASHVILLE – With the arrival of summer, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans to not send fire safety on vacation this year. Although summer in Tennessee has not proven to be as deadly as winter, historical fire data gathered from Tennessee fire departments reveals that summertime brings the Volunteer State its own set of fire-related dangers. For example:

  • The second week of July—which includes the Fourth of July weekend—is the most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires. While some of the risk can be attributed to an increase in fireworks-related fires, other summer-related activities like outdoor grilling, camping, and lawn care also contribute to inherent fire risk.
  • Over the last five years, Tennessee fire departments have reported an increase in certain types of equipment-related structure fires during the summer months. Air-conditioning units and outdoor grills are twice as likely to cause fires, while lawnmowers are three times as likely.
  • The third week of June is the second most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires, in part due to an increase in air conditioning related fires.

“I urge Tennesseans to take fire safety seriously this summer in order to better protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property,” said State Fire Marshal and Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “In addition to staying hydrated and checking on elderly neighbors during the hot summer days ahead, I also urge Tennesseans to leave fireworks to the experts and always use caution when grilling outdoors.”

To help Tennesseans stay safe this summer, the SFMO shares the following summer fire safety tips:

Around the House

  • Remove leaves and trash from carports and garages as combustible materials are dangerous if exposed to heated automobile or lawn care equipment components, especially those on the underside of the vehicle or lawn mower.
  • Never refuel a lawn mower while it’s still hot.
  • Always let lawn mowers and other gas-powered equipment cool down before storing them inside.
  • Check gasoline containers for leaks. Never bring gasoline indoors, even in small amounts. Store gas containers in an outbuilding, detached garage, or a shed outdoors.
  • Use gasoline only as motor fuel, never as a cleaner.
  • Rags that have been used to clean up spills of combustible or flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes can start a fire if not handled with care. Never leave these cleaning rags in a pile. Take them outside to dry, then place the dried rags in a tightly-covered metal container filled with water and detergent solution to break down the oils.
  • Lit citronella candles and torches should be placed outside out the reach of children and well away from flammable materials such as overhangs or branches. Ensure flames are completely extinguished before leaving the area or going to bed.
  • Always observe burn bans and check with your local and state authorities on outdoor burning regulations.
  • Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas and on every level of the house.
  • Practice a home fire escape plan with all occupants that includes two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.

Out and About

  • Choose a hotel or vacation rental that is equipped with both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers.
  • If you are going on a trip, turn off or unplug unnecessary appliances and electronics before you leave the house.
  • Never throw lit cigarettes out of a car as they have potential to ignite dry vegetation and other combustible materials.
  • Build campfires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs or other materials that burn. Never leave the camping area without putting out the campfire.
  • Ensure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed inside vacation rental homes, campers, and RVs.
  • To prevent injury, consider attending a public fireworks display instead of setting off your own. Children should not handle or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.

To avoid the dangers of electric shock drowning, make sure children and loved ones understand the importance of not swimming anywhere there could be electricity, such as marinas and boatyards. The SFMO has recently completed an inspection of Tennessee’s public marinas and docks.